The Cicely Osmond Collection provides a detailed
visual account of everyday life in the Soviet Union during the
1920s-30s, with particularly rich material on Soviet education
and training. It includes photographs, posters, children's books
Cicely Osmond was a teacher, socialist and keen Esperantist,
who also wrote Nature Notes in the Daily Worker during
the 1950s. Given her interest in education and socialism, she
visited the Soviet Union on a number of occasions from the early
1930s to the 1970s, travelling widely around the country.
Two albums of photographs from visits in 1931 and 1935 are of
particular interest. At a time of political and social transformation,
they offer an insight into how such momentous changes shaped the
everyday lives of Soviet people. They include many photographs
of people at work and rest - travelling, selling their wares at
markets or cooling off during a heat-wave. There are images of
industry and agriculture - from collective farms to workers' flats,
factory schools and industrialisation along the Volga.
However, it is the material relating to children and education
that forms the core of the collection. During her visits in the
1930s Cicely Osmond visited pioneer camps, schools and kindergartens,
amassing a unique collection of photographs. Among others, photographs
taken at Soviet pioneer camps show boys and girls at work and
leisure - gardening, doing woodwork, reading and playing sport.
These photographs are supplemented by a collection of children's
paperbacks published during the 1920s and 1930s, including puzzle
and activity books, children's literature and information books
introducing children to the changes in society. There are also
examples of children's own work in the form of wall newspapers
The collection includes a host of Soviet realia collected by
Cicely Osmond from the 1930s onwards - tourist brochures, menus,
metro tickets and maps, theatre programmes and invitations to
concerts. It also holds Cicely's correspondence with family and
friends, both in the UK and the Soviet Union, much of it in Esperanto.
For more information, see feature article Reflections on
the Cicely Osmond Collection, SCRSS
Information Digest, Autumn 2010 issue on pages 6-9.